A WORCESTER library might be safe from closure because of terms and conditions attached to a grant – but that might only increase tensions for users of other libraries across the county.

St John’s library reopened with a fanfare last year after the Big Lottery Fund’s £1.49 million cash injection enabled an overhaul of the service and Victorian building in Glebe Close.

In Worcestershire, 21 libraries, as well as mobile and prison services, are under review as part of the county council’s aim of making up to £70 million savings over the next four years.

At a meeting of the council, Councillor Richard Udall, a Labour councillor for St John’s ward, said: “I am told that St John’s library should be exempt and if it is closed or has its hours restricted we would have to repay the National Lottery grant which we received to refurbish the library. Should it therefore be safe from any cuts?”

Councillor John Campion, cabinet member for localism and communities, said: “We are well aware of the restrictions with that particular project.” But he declined to comment on the specifics.

A spokesman for the Big Lottery Fund confirmed that it would have to agree to any changes proposed to the use or ownership of St John’s library within the next 20 years.

“If the future of a library becomes a concern, we would enter into discussions to address the financial issues and find a resolution,” he said.

While the people of St John’s might be breathing a sigh of relief, it might only increase anxiety for others.

Coun Campion said: “The library service within this county council has an excellent track record for delivering savings.

“You only have to look back over the last two years where it saved £1 million and continued to increase the number of transactions that the public have with the library service by delivering more innovation to ensure that we meet those challenges and I’m sure we would expect this next round of savings to be delivered in exactly the same way.”

Coun Udall asked if some libraries might be converted into co-operatives whereby a group of people share ownership and act together to meet the common needs and aspirations of its members.

Coun Campion said it was something the council can explore.

He said: “I want to reassure the council that the review of library services will be based on the premise we will provide the service that is appropriate to the community that uses them in that area.”

A report on the library service was due to be presented to the county’s cabinet today.